BioLite Camp Stove w/ USB Port Review

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TL;DR: Don’t quit your Pocket Rocket. If you need to charge your phone, get a solar panel. This device is not for the Ultralight or the Impatient

Summary:

  • Great portable fire.
  • Takes about 4-6 minutes to come to a rolling boil.
  • Not safe in a burn ban
  • Weighs about 2.5lbs
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Will charge devices slowly
  • Is wicked cool to play with, if you like sitting around playing with fire

This wasn’t going to be my first review, however I’ve seen some discussion on GearRat as well as other forums regarding the BioLite Camp Stove.

BioLite originally released this device in 2012. At that time, reviewers trashed it for good reason. It can be smoky when you first start your fire, and the charging setting only worked on “High” which caused your “biofuel” to burn faster.

There have been improvements in the last 4 years, like when the USB port illuminates green, your device is ready to be charged, whether on Low or High. Additionally they’ve released a less expensive version that is only a stove without USB capability. This version will save you an entire 1lb of weight.

Things You Need to Know About BioLite

The company did not set out to invent a wood burning stove that would create enough thermoelectric charge to power portable devices. The point of the fan is to burn clean fires, and the thermoelectric generator was designed to keep the fan self-powered. Designers discovered how much energy was produced, and chose to add a USB port to the fan. They were actually surprised to find its USB feature to be its most valuable to customers. (Why that surprised them is beyond me. We’re all tech-obsessed.)

This is a disclaimer you’ll find on every positive review of BioLite because reviewers who like it understand its intentions.

 Pros:
BioLite is a wood-burning stove, which means you can use any twigs, bark, pinecones, or organic combustible material as fuel. In theory you’ll never run out of fuel on the trail. As a wood-burning stove, though, it’s heavy. You can purchase a TOAKS Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove (7.9oz) for $62.95 on Amazon.com if you’re interested in a wood-burner, or you can DIY it with some cans. See link below for more info on that

IMG_1759
(http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/build-ultra-efficient-diy-wood-gasifier-backpacking.html)

Why people enjoy the BioLite is because of its clean energy, recyclable appeal. This is the stove for the people identifying themselves as “environmentally conscious.”

Or pyromaniacs.

How To Use BioLite CampStove

 To use the BioLite stove, you’ll build a small fire inside its compartment following the same steps you would to build a regular fire: Tinder, kindle, and then larger sticks.

Other reviews are correct in saying you will spend a good amount of time adding more fuel to prolong your fire and maintain optimum heat. I didn’t find it a bother, but as anyone who’s gone camping with me knows, I love to mess with my fires.

The fan will start on its own when enough heat is generated. This will cause your flames to create a “fire tornado” that is downright awesome. Please be careful not to burn yourself.

Place your pot or pan on the fire when you’re ready. If flames go down, or your USB light turns red, add more fuel.

When you are done, let the fire burn down to ash (this might take a while as those coals are VERY hot for a long time). You can pick up and move the device using its plastic-cased fan (the orange part). Dump these ashes into a fire pit or a cat hole. Pour water over them to be safe.

Cons:

There is no battery in the device to store charge. If you want to charge your cell phone, it might take you up to three hours of burn time. (Not something I personally minded) Same goes with your GoPro.

It’s huge and it’s heavy. This is not something you want to pack if you’re ultralight, for obvious reasons. And frankly, you can’t use it everywhere. Please use your best judgment when taking it into the backcountry. Any ember that may fly out will be packed with an unusual amount of heat for an ordinary ember thanks to the fan. Any stick you poke into the fire will immediately catch flame and you will have a hard time putting it out. Even wet wood.

Remember that in burn bans, the only fires or stoves you can carry are those with valves, (i.e. propane).

But I’ll tell ya: You can roast marshmallows, keep yourself warm, char a good hot dog, and charge your devices. I’m honestly sold on it.

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